Friday, January 28, 2011
I’ve never felt like I wanted that, though I have often pushed myself to try and be more like that. It’s never worked, because I quickly end up feeling completely out of sorts. There are plenty of people like me around, albeit a minority. I’ll bet half my readers are like this.
And in our society, there is very little place for people who are made like this. You can easily end up in trouble – broke and with a list of ‘syndromes’ being the least of it. But you’ve also usually got some unusual abilities and insights.
He continues: At present the domain – our civilisation – finds itself in the hands of the vizier, who, however, gifted, is effectively an ambitious regional bureaucrat with his own interests at heart. Meanwhile the Master, the one whose wisdom gave the people peace and security, is led away in chains. The Master is betrayed by his emissary.
So there’s the wider context to what I was saying. Our culture demands a narrow clarity and focus most of the time, which some people are very good at, and they are seen as successful. But I can’t write this blog in that kind of way. I write a bit, then I wander off and do something else while my thoughts collect themselves, and then out comes another paragraph. I have to go from the focussed back to the less purposeful and more dreamy, and then back to the focussed when I feel ready. I need both to do anything creative. Too much right brain and I feel bottled up, too much left brain and I feel like a big part of me is being forgotten.
The Western Negative Saturn. and Sun Square Saturn.)
I think this tension is the reason behind the grumpiness of Capricorns. This Saturn-ruled sign is well known for its talent and its hard work and its achievement, and our culture being what it is, that is the side of Capricorns that gets drawn out. But there is another side to them. They are also contemplatives who need their solitude, and when it is lacking they get grumpy.
I’ve sometimes wondered about the sextile from Capricorn to Pisces, because they are such different signs. But if you think of Capricorn as solitude, then you can see the sextile to dreamy Pisces. With hard-working Capricorn, however, you can certainly see Pisces as an antidote, but they are not obviously compatible. I think that, as with Capricorn, the problem comes down to seeing Pisces as one-sidedly dreamy and passive. Pisces as ocean could be seen like this, but Pisces as ruled by Poseidon the ‘Earth-shaker’ would seem to be quite different.
This sextile from Capricorn to Pisces is going to be crucial globally for the next 13 years, as Pluto passes through one and Neptune the other. These 2 planets more than any other describe what is going on in the world (see my piece of 3rd January.) For the next couple of years, however, what we are likely to experience most strongly is the square from Uranus to Pluto, which comes within a degree this year, and will be exact next year.
This combination usually brings dramatic change. Pluto is a god of wealth and therefore of the economy. For the west the change seems to be about the economy and the huge readjustment needed as China and other emerging economies provide serious competition to the West. Hence the ‘jobless recovery’, as China and others undercut the West’s labour costs. Politicians who can afford to say so are saying that this recovery is going to take a few years.
there is growing mistrust of the government, fuelled by the internet. The nuclear-armed Pakistani government teeters under pressure from militant Islamists. We are tipping over into quite a different world, as you would expect under 2 outer planets hard-aspecting each other.
Wednesday, January 12, 2011
The transits to your chart from the outer planets describe the bigger transformations that are going on/have gone on in your life. And the progressions describe the phases, often lasting years, that you are living through.
I was at the Exeter Astrology group the other night, and Ed Gillam gave a presentation on Dietrech Pessin’s work on ‘Moon Families’, which expands on this idea of New Moons timing significant events. I found the basic idea very interesting.
New Moons occur in 3 year cycles, so that both 3 years before and after our New Moon at 15 Aries (ish), there will also have been a New Moon around 15 Aries. You'll often find that one of these 3 year periods - or sometimes both - was pretty pivotal in your life, probably the one where the 2 New Moons have the tightest orbs to (in this case) your Sun or Asc. These New Moons gradually drift backwards by a few degrees every 3 years, so that quite quickly they are too far off to be significant.
It’s sounding complicated already, so I’ll give an example. My Asc is at 29 Leo. There was a New Moon at 29 Leo in August 1979. And then one at 26 Leo in August 1982. This was a period in which I moved from one life to another, from being at University, and not quite sure why I was there (like many students!) to getting involved with a Buddhist lifestyle and friends and values that constituted an entirely different life for me.
Interestingly, the immediately preceding cycle, from August 1976 to August 1979, was also close to my Ascendant, with the 1976 New Moon at 2 Virgo being just 2 degrees away. And this was also a period in which I moved from one life to another: in August 1976, I was just finishing 10 years at boarding school, which had effectively become my life. 3 years later I was a different person, having rejected all the main values surrounding my upbringing and searching for an entirely different direction.
There is plenty more to unpack about these cycles. I have so far just mentioned the 3 year cycle as the New Moon repeats itself at significant points in your chart (though occurring a few degrees earlier at the end of the cycle than at the beginning.)
There is also a 19 year cycle which is exact to within a day or so. So my New Moon at 29.01 Leo on 22nd Aug 1979 was repeated 19 years later on 22nd August 1998 at 28.48 Leo. And guess what? August 1998 found me beginning another new life, the Buddhist one having come apart at the seams, and it took 3 years to establish, almost exactly. (The immediately preceding cycle, from 1995-8, also had this quality of fundamental shift, but less obviously so.)
So for me, the pattern has been of 2 of these 3 year cycles happening consecutively on my Asc, with the emphasis of the first cycle being an inner transformation of values and outlook, and the emphasis of the second cycle being on the complete transformation of my life in accordance with that inner revolution. And this has happened twice, 19 years apart.
The 3 year cycle itself is divided into 4 phases, and in a way I should have started with this, because it is basic to the whole idea. But then you can get confused before you’ve even started! These 4 phases occur at 9 month intervals (which is why Dietrech Pessin calls this pattern the ‘Lunar Gestation Cycle’). And they can time remarkably accurately the unfoldment of a theme, from seed idea or impulse through to completion.
This is how it works. If there is a New Moon at 15 Aries, then 9 months later there will be a quarter Moon, remarkably at the same degree: Moon at 15 Aries (ish) square to the Sun at 15 Capricorn (1/4 of the way round the zodiac from the initial Sun at 15 Aries). 9 months after that, there will be a Full Moon, again at the same degree: Moon at 15 Aries opposite the Sun at 15 Libra. And then 9 months after that, we have another quarter Moon, with the Moon at 15 Aries square the Sun at 15 Cancer. The cycle is completed 9 months later with a New Moon at 15 Aries (all give or take a degree or two.)
Obama’s decision to run for the Presidency was part of the previous cycle, and the eclipse was the culmination of that cycle, as well as the beginning of the new one. One month earlier he had won his first primary in Iowa in his campaign to be the Democratic candidate. So the first practical step, the first necessary achievement in becoming President was there, which is that you start actually winning primaries. This is the New Moon phase, the first step.
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Fast forward 9 months to the 1st quarter, the opening square, of the cycle, with Sun at 14 Scorpio square Moon at 14 Aquarius on 6th Nov 2008. 2 days earlier he had won the Presidency. The opening square of a cycle is always dynamic, as the initial idea/theme bursts into action.
9 months later in August 2009 we have the Full Moon phase, with the Sun opposite the Moon at 14 Leo/Aquarius. It is the Summer to the opening square’s Spring, when you are at a peak. Healthcare Reform had always been Obama’s top domestic priority, and 3 weeks before this Full Moon his 1000 page plan was first introduced to Congress. Then in early May 2010 there was the closing square of the 3 year cycle with the Sun at 16 Taurus and the Moon at 16 Aquarius. This is the autumn, a time of fruition, of harvesting what you have sown and fought for. A month earlier, at the end of March, Obama’s Healthcare Bill was signed into law.
We have not had the next New Moon yet, which will be on Feb 3 2011, but we have already had its signifying event, which was the installation of a new Congress on 4th Jan, one which will be against Obama rather than for him, and most likely making the legislative victories of his first 2 years unrepeatable. This New Moon signifies the end of that period. It does not open up a new cycle, for the Aquarian New Moon in 3 years time will be at 11 degrees, too far off his Asc to be a significant cycle. Well, a lot of astrologers would say that, and I’ve probably already offended them with my 4 degrees off for Obama’s 2008-11 cycle, but when it comes to orbs I’m a bit of a wide boy! Let’s see if the next 3 years works as a cycle or not.
Natally, Barack Obama has Uranus conjunct North Node in Leo, so being a mould-breaker, being highly individual, is essential to who he is. The North Node describes the deeper patterns, our destiny if you like, if we are up for change and progress. And in Obama’s case, the New Moon/Ascendant cycles both activated his North Node. Just as they activated my own North Node in Scorpio. Which you’d kind of expect, because the North Node is a combination of Lunar and Solar principles.
Along with the MC, the Ascendant is one of the 2 main points in the chart through which we connect with the world. The planets themselves have more of an inner emphasis. So in many cases the Ascendant is going to be what is most visible in someone and most obviously connected with the events in their lives. The New Moon cycles undoubtedly affect e.g. the natal Sun and Moon just as much as they affect the Ascendant, but I suspect that on average the cycle to the Ascendant is more easily discernible. The Ascendant, of course, brings its own problems as it is so closely tied to ascertaining an accurate time of birth.
On the other hand, the New Moon cycles could well be used as a means of rectification. For myself, my own Ascendant is rectified from an original placement in Virgo, and the fact that the New Moon/Ascendant cycle worked so brilliantly has strengthened the case for my Asc at 29 Leo – within a couple of degrees, of course.
I want to re-emphasise at this point the 9 month intervals, the phases of the Moon, that occur within the 3 year cycle, because they can time events so well, and help us understand the particular process we are undergoing. In the case of Obama, the timing of the phases shows that his ascent to the Presidency had a strong element of wanting to transform America. And that the earlier cycle, from 89 to 92, when he was president of the Harvard Law Review, therefore probably also had a similar element: getting himself in a position where he could actually change something in a mould-breaking sort of way.
The idea for these Moon Familes (what I seem to be calling New Moon Cycles) came from an American telephone astrologer, Dietrech Pessin, who noticed that there were often 9-month intervals between people ringing her, and that they often started a cycle of consultations around a New Moon. The issue would then unfold over the next 2 and ½ years, through to the fruition of the closing square. But don’t quote me on that, because I haven’t read her book Lunar Shadows III ~ The Predictive Power of Moon Phases and Eclipses .
Astrology included, the Moon becomes a profound cyclical principle that describes our lives on a monthly basis in its complete circuit of the zodiac, particularly through the lunar return; and on a 3 yearly basis, shifting forward every 9 months, when we apply it to the points in our chart which have been affected by New Moons over the previous 3 years (and there may be several.) Furthermore, each of these 3 year cycles (of which there would be up to 11: 7 personal planets and 4 Angles) will recur every 19 years, creating repeated patterns of development that build during the course of our lives.
NB 19 years looks rather like 18.6 years, which is the period that the North Node takes to circle the zodiac. They are different numbers, however. It wouldn't surprise me if there is a relationship, but I for one can't get my head around it!
Monday, January 03, 2011
Coincidentally, Neptune and Pluto began travelling at the same speed when they were near enough 60 degrees, or exactly 2 signs, apart. Since then, therefore, they have always entered a new sign within a few years of each other – not long on their time scales.
The planets as gods (a modern, sometimes controversial, astrological identification) exist outside of time and space. The results of their actions, the past, present and future, are instantly clear to them. If we are intuitively gifted, then those patterns may be clear to us too, at least to some extent, maybe in flashes now and again. We, however, are creatures of clay, our journey is through time and space: those flashes can be helpful, but it is not our place to know the minds of the gods, to see too much of the deeper patterns of development that we are passing through individually and collectively, or else we would not be able to live them.
Saturn is the planet that balances this out. He is the bridge between the inner and outer planets, he shows us how to be an ordinary physical human, yet also connected to the wider, deeper, more meaningful patterns that are also part of being human.
As astrologers, discovering the deeper patterns, the hidden meanings, behind existence is precisely what we are about. It needs, however, to be in a way that is physically lived – the astrology is a mere pointer. I said it is not our place to know the minds of the gods, but at the same time nothing is more important. It’s a matter of how you go about it. If it emerges organically from the way you live, from attempting to understand your experience, then that is balanced, that is Saturn. If you grasp after it, or if you identify yourself as that sort of person, whether as bishop or mullah, shaman or astrologer (!), then that can often suggest an attempt to bypass the actual living of it.
Anything can be a religion or not a religion. The essential point is whether your understanding comes out of your experience or from what someone else has said, whether on this plane or another one, and whether you can tell the difference. If you’re religious, what some authority has said comes before your own experience. If you’re the real deal, it’s your own considered experience that is the authority. Of course, everyone likes to think their understanding is autonomous, that they are their own authority. And there are degrees of it. But that sort of independence, which is an emotional as well as a cognitive quality, is rarer than one might think.
Knowing the meaning of an outer planet transit to our chart is not easy, nor should it be. Astrology helps us see that there is meaning in what is happening, it is not just random, and it can even point us roughly in the direction of what it means. But it is just a map, sometimes brilliant and inspiring and mind-boggling, but still just a map. It is not a substitute for the actual exploration.
And it is the same with the meanings for the collective of the outer planet transits. Our lives are not just a personal journey (I don’t like that over-used word, especially since Tony Blair called his memoirs ‘A Journey’.) We are intimately tied in to where the collective is going, whether we like it or not. Getting some sort of separation, some sort of distance from the collective is necessary if we are to understand anything, but not in such a way that we can pretend to ourselves we are not part of it.
This is why mundane astrology – the astrology of the world, of countries, of collectives – is of great importance. It tells us where the world is going, and it reminds us that we are part of it. We are not just our personal chart. We are also our personal chart, for example, in relation to the chart of the country we live in, and in relation to the charts of our parents and so on. The personal chart cannot be fully understood in isolation.
It is not easy to understand the meanings for the collective of an outer planet in a sign, particularly at the time. We may have flashes of insight, and certain events may have an obvious connection, but the wider understanding takes time and cultural awareness and probably a lot of plodding through historical data.
Neptune and Pluto have been entering new signs within a few years of each other for many decades now, and coincidentally Uranus has also been part of that process. This means that the ages we have been passing through have been quite clearly defined.
So between 1955 and 1956, Uranus began to move into Leo, Neptune into Scorpio and Pluto into Virgo. This process took a few more years to complete and establish itself, but all 3 outer planets moving into new signs suggests a clearly defined new era, which is indeed what happened in the 60s, as the West moved economically from the post-war effort to re-establish itself into years of boom, and socially and politically into a rejection of old values and all sorts of cultural awakenings.
Exactly how this played out in terms of planets and signs would be very complex to analyse. You could say, for example, that the previous Pluto in Leo period had awoken a sense of the importance of the individual, the power of individuality, and Uranus coming into Leo furthered that process – heightened selfishness as well as opposition to authority. Pluto in Virgo ushered in a period where we began to rely much more on high technology (Virgo), where we could no longer survive (Pluto) without it.
All three planets came together as Uranus entered Virgo later in the 60s: you had the intense protest and revolutionary intent of the Uranus-Pluto conjunction, which was in turn sextile to Neptune in Scorpio, making protest in a way fashionable, and connecting it to the counter-culture.
The 2 most defining planets in this way at looking at our modern eras are Neptune and Pluto, being further out than Uranus and, for now, operating in tandem. With Pluto the emphasis is on the economy and the balance of power (Pluto is a god of wealth); and with Neptune the emphasis is on our underlying mythologies, fantasies and ideals, as well as the general mood.
In 1983-84, the Neptune moved into Capricorn and Pluto into Scorpio. There was a new economic boom on the way, not unlike the recent one, in which materialism became sexy – Neptune in Capricorn, combined with the raw power of money, of the bankers - Pluto in Scorpio. After a short recession in the early 1990s, the stage was set by the prolonged action of this materialistic combination to create the longest economic boom since the 1960s.
Also in the early 90s we had what must have been the biggest event of this Neptune-Pluto Age, which was the collapse of Communism and a shift in the world balance of power towards the US and the West in general. The suddenness with which the collapse happened and the move into a different future speaks of Uranus, which was conjunct Neptune and sextile Pluto. Neptune in Capricorn is dissolution of governments, and the ease with which it happened is described by the sextile to Pluto, functioning powerfully in his own sign of Scorpio.
Pluto had been moving at it fastest for some time now, faster than Neptune, putting it inside its orbit, which meant there were 3 years between Pluto moving into Sagittarius (1995) and Neptune moving into Aquarius (1998). The collective has a short memory, and the prolonged boom set up by Neptune and Pluto in the 80s/90s inevitably led to excess and the feeling (as in 1929) that somehow the rules had changed. The first excess was the dotcom bubble, brilliantly described by Neptune (fantasy) in Aquarius (internet) and Pluto in Sag (economic boom). Pluto doesn’t find it easy to function well in Sagittarius, as he lives not just on the earth but below it, while Sagittarius, ruled as it is by the king of the gods, is the sign least concerned with earthly reality.
(During both the 1980s and the Noughties economic bubbles, Pluto was inside the orbit of Neptune, in a way making Neptune the more powerful influence, adding to the possibility that fantasy (Neptune) would have a stronger than usual influence over the economy (Pluto).)
At the same time, the new internet age motored along famously, with Neptune in Aquarius being empowered not just by his sextile to Pluto, but also by the mutual reception to Uranus in Pisces (Neptune rules Pisces, and Uranus Aquarius.) The internet does not have a material existence that you can easily point to, and it is only partly governed by economic factors, so the Neptune-Pluto combination has worked in its favour rather than against it. In writing about the internet I am not just pulling out a cultural factor that suits the astrology (which you can always do); rather I am writing about something which started to change and define the whole culture, and whose full significance is not yet clear.
And so to the present. Pluto began to change sign from Sagittarius to Capricorn in 2008, and Neptune will start to change to Pisces in April this year. The entry into Capricorn was economically dramatic, more than you’d expect from a planet that usually takes time to make his presence felt, his changes being deep. But as Pluto entered earthy, level-headed Capricorn (a good sign for Pluto), so too did the ruler of Capricorn, Saturn, begin to oppose Uranus, a periodic combination that is always dramatic and revolutionary.
And so we have had the Great Recession – a measure of just how out of balance things had become economically under Pluto in Sag/Neptune in Aquarius. At the same time, the chart for Pluto’s entry into Capricorn was quite favourable – Pluto in a stellium with benefics Jupiter and Venus, and trine to Capricorn’s ruler, retrograde Saturn. There is stuff to sort out (retrograde Saturn), and it will take the time it takes (Capricorn/Saturn). And it is a fundamental restructuring (Pluto). So it will take time. It may still get worse before it gets better. But this combination doesn’t suggest the extreme of Depression.
Pluto in Capricorn is soon to work in tandem with Neptune in Pisces, and this is where we will have to speculate. I find it odd that Capricorn and Pisces sextile each other (a flowing aspect), because in their natures they are so different, even opposing. They are earth and water respectively, which is compatible, but Capricorn is so worldly and Pisces so unworldly that it is hard to see how they can get on healthily. You can, for example, just see Pisces capacity for empathy being put to ruthless and manipulative use by a Capricorn businessman. At best, though, Pisces can mellow a rigid and conservative Capricornian worldliness, and Capricorn can insist that Pisces puts its dreams into action. A successful artist, or a philanthropic businessman, could have this combination.
Neptune in Pisces is in its own sign, and as we saw with Pluto in its own sign in the 1980s, where the vulgar power of money was in the ascendant, it can bring out the worst. It could be a time when the collective tells fantastical stories about itself. I think China will be a match for America sooner than we realise, and how will America explain that to itself?
With natal Neptune square to 7th House Mars, the US is used to creating myths (Neptune) about its foreign enemies (Mars in the 7th). These planets are at 21 Gemini and 22 Virgo respectively, which Neptune will begin to hard-aspect as it progresses through Pisces. Last time Neptune hard aspected these 2 planets, in 1980/81, the country elected a cowboy actor for a President who promoted the myth of the Soviet Union as the Evil Empire! The next hard Neptune aspect will not be exact for another 10 years, but these transits can begin surprisingly early.
And what will America say to itself about the war it is losing against militant Islam? Who or what will America blame? In both US economic and foreign policy terms, there will be plenty of scope for Neptune’s mythologising at its worst over the next 14 years.
So for the West generally, putting Pluto and Neptune together, we are likely to see new mythologies created (Neptune in Pisces) to describe/compensate for the new economic realities (Pluto in Capricorn.) And for the new political realities, for money is power. China is currently arming itself at a frightening rate. And the West’s implacable enemy, the militant Islam which arose so appropriately under Pluto in Sagittarius is, under Pluto in Capricorn, equally appropriately becoming the established power in many parts of the Middle and Near East, as well as southwards through Africa. And Oil (Neptune) is at the heart of this struggle, particularly the West’s dominance of those countries which supply it. Over the last 15 years, the US Progressed Saturn and Mars have both gone retrograde for the first time ever. America is on the retreat economically and militarily, and with it Europe.
The chart for Neptune’s Ingress into Pisces is striking: 6 planets in Aries, including a New Moon and a Mars-Uranus conjunction. We will really notice this transit; it is the start of something very, very new. Well it would be, wouldn’t it, because it will be the time when the West, dominant in the world for hundreds of years, first under Europe and then under its offspring America, will cease to be so dominant. The Far East will begin to at least equal it. And with economic influence (Pluto) comes cultural influence (Neptune). Look at what the West did with Christianity and Coca Cola. No doubt the turning point will, in retrospect, be seen as the time of the Uranus-Pluto conjunction which is seriously starting this year, just as Neptune enters Pisces and asks us to re-formulate our mythologies, our stories about who we are.